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Art Terms and Acronym Glossary

An art glossary and how it relates to what I do

Abstract Art

Abstract Art is meant to NOT represent a realistic depiction of anything in particular. It uses color, forms, shapes, and gestural marks. Abstract Art is not my style of artwork although I appreciate what others have created.

Acrylic Painting

Acrylic Paint is my current favored paint medium. It is a water-based fast-drying paint that is easily thinned with water, or used thickly. It is typically applied with brushes or knives.

*Easiest for beginners to learn.

*Easy cleanup with water if paint is still wet.

Art Print

Art prints, or fine art prints are known as giclee prints which are made with very high resolution inkjet printers specialized in their quality, longevity and value in photo paper and image rendering.

There are particular directions when packaging art prints in a professional way when offering prints for sale including archival clear bags and a backing board that fit to the size of the print to help protect it. Signing the print, numbering or limited edition, a business card, a Certificate of Authenticity are other options to learn more about.

I currently am working with 8x10, 8.5x11, 11x14, 12x12, 12x16 for the most part in my art prints. Please ask for availability.

AI Art

AI art, or artificial intelligence art is a controversial subject. AI art is created (or generated) by a machine learning process.


Foreground is closest, mid-ground is between the fore and the background. The background part of an artwork lies in the distance and appears to be behind objects in the foreground. Depth is achieved when layering the composition.


A principle of art and design concerned with the arrangement of one or more elements in a work of art so that they appear symmetrical (identical compositional units on either side of an axis) or asymmetrical (not identical) in design and proportion.

Blocking In

This is a painting process where the artist roughly establishes the composition and structure of the subject with colors and shapes. It’s a popular technique used mostly with oil painting, and portrait artists.

Call for Art

A notice from a gallery, or art group for artists to submit art. Typically, art is selected to show from the art submitted, known as a jurying process.


A closely woven, sturdy/heavy cloth of hemp, cotton, linen, or a similar fiber, frequently stretched over a frame and used as a surface for painting. Less expensive back stapled canvas does not cover the staples used to fix the cloth to the frame. Gallery-wrapped canvas has the cloth very nicely folded, tucked and has the staples hidden, leaving the sides available for painting as well. Gallery wrapped canvas is my preferred painting surface and does not necessarily need to be framed.


Although most artist's moms could be considered a young artist's first "collector", the title identifies someone who buys, or collects, art. Anyone can be a collector and he or she could start their collection with an unframed photograph or print, and go from there. 


The perceived hue of an object, produced by the manner in which it reflects or emits light into the eye. Also, a substance, such as a dye, pigment, or paint, that imparts a hue.


A request for the production of an artwork. Typically, a contract is necessary and upfront percentage of the payment is paid before work begins. Reference photos could be sent to or taken by the artist for some subjects. Great communication is needed between the person requesting the art and the artist so that expectations are met.


The arrangement of the individual elements within a work of art so as to form a unified whole. There are varying numbers of composition "rules" or techniques (especially used in photography), here is a list of many of them:

1. Rule of Thirds

2. Centered Composition and Symmetry

3. Foreground Interest and Depth

4. Frame Within the Frame

5. Leading Lines

6. Diagonals and Triangles

7. Patterns and Textures

8. Break the Pattern

9. Rule of Odds

10. Fill the Frame

11. Leave Negative Space

12. Simplicity and Minimalism

13. Use Black and White

14. Isolate the Subject

15. Shoot from Below

16. Shoot from Above

17. Look for Particular Color Combinations

18. Rule of Space

19. Left to Right Rule

20. Balance Elements in the Scene

21. Juxtaposition

22. Golden Triangles

23. Golden Ratio

24. Let the Background Give Context to the Subject

25. Let the Eye Wander Around the Frame

26. Use Layers in the Frame

27. Add Human Interest

28. Wait for the “Decisive Moment”

See "Composition" on the Artistry Spin Blog for info on them.


Use of opposites near or beside one another (light and dark, rough and smooth).

Cool Colors

The Cool Colors are mostly green, blue, violet (purple).


A curator is someone whose job is to create and run exhibitions or look after a collection. Curating a show means putting a show together: liaising with artists and deciding where the works go on the walls.

Digital Art

Digital Art is any artistic work or practice that uses digital technology as part of the creative or presentation process - computational art.


Two panels or canvases that typically present a singular artwork, sometimes hinged together. Some artists sell them together as a unit, but not always.


A work of art made with a pencil, colored pencils, pen, crayon, charcoal, or other implements, often consisting of lines and marks.


An edition is a predetermined number of prints at a specific size from a single image. An edition print should be of exhibition quality and will be individually numbered (e.g 5/10), signed and dated, either on the print itself or on an accompanying certificate. Often an ‘Artist Proof’ will exist separate to the edition and is usually the first or last to be printed. Editioning is more common among contemporary photographers and gives the collector an assurance of authenticity.

Elements of Art

The basic components which are put together to make a visual work of art. They are color, line, shape, texture, space, form and value. All works of art are composed of these basic elements. 


Principle of design concerned that stresses one element or area in a work of art to make it attract the viewer’s attention first.

Focal Point

This is the part of a piece of art work, usually a two-dimensional piece like a painting or photograph, which is the central focus of a piece, and where the eye is drawn to first.


As opposed to the background, this is the part of a two-dimensional piece of art which appears closest to the viewer.


Form is an element of art; the three dimensional structure of an object. In two dimensions, a form is represented as a shape.


A giclée print, rather than a limited edition, is a method of printmaking using an ink-jet printer to produce photographic images of artworks.


A water-based matte paint, sometimes called opaque watercolor, composed of ground pigments and plant-based binders, such as gum Arabic or gum tragacanth. The opacity of gouache derives from the addition of white fillers, such as clay or chalk, or a higher ratio of pigment to binder.


A particular gradation of color; a shade or tint.


The process of thickly applying paint using a brush or a palette knife. Impasto paint is thick and textured; usually oil paint is used but sometimes artists use acrylic. Impasto artworks are characterized by the thickly layered paint, and visible marks of the palette knife.


A call for art that artists submit work to and the artwork is selected by an individual or group to be displayed for that art show or gallery.


A painting that has natural scenery as its primary focus.

Limited Edition

A limited edition is a piece of art – such as a photograph, etching or screenprint -that is produced in small, or limited numbers, which adds to their value.


Line is an element of art; a continuous path of a point as it moves across a surface. A line can vary in length, width, direction, curvature or color.


Manassas Art Guild is a non-profit art group based in Manassas, Virginia. Manassas Art Guild


The materials used to create a work of art, and the categorization of art based on the materials used (for example, painting [or more specifically, watercolor], drawing, sculpture).

Mixed Media

A technique involving the use of two or more artistic media, such as ink and pastel or painting and collage, that are combined in a single composition.


Not For Sale


Shorthand for ‘non-fungible token’, an NFT is a digital token that states that you are the owner of a digital work – a piece of art, a piece of music or even a tweet! The NFT is like a digital certificate of authenticity.

Oil Painting

Usually is a slow-drying paint with particles of pigment suspended in a drying oil. The curing time is considerable with oil paints, it is typically more expensive, and generally not as easy to work with as acrylics. There are now water-based oil paints that I intend to use at some point.


A non-profit art group based in Manassas, Virginia. Many of the pARTnets artists are found outdoor doing plein-air painting and in the fall, host the annual Paint! Manassas constest. p-ART-ners


Two-dimensional decorative visual repetition. A pattern has no movement and may or may not have rhythm.


This is how I like to paint - to make an image look like a photograph. When someone asks is it a photograph, I know I got it right.

Plein Air

French for "out of doors" and refers to the practice of painting and finishing the art piece outside.

Principles of Design

1. Balance

2. Contrast

3. Emphasis

4. Proportion

5. Pattern

6. Rhythm

7. Unity

8. Variety


A principle of design concerned with the size relationships of one part to the whole and one part to another.


Prince William Art Society is a non-profit art group in Prince William County, Virginia, which has been in the county for over 50 years. Prince William Art Society


Prince William County Arts Council 

Prince William County Department of Parks & Recreation

14420 Bristow Rd., Manassas VA 20112


Principal of design that repeats elements to create the illusion of movement. Visual rhythm is perceived through the eyes, and is created by repeating positive spaces separated by negative spaces. Alternating rhythm is when the visual rhythm set up by repeating motifs but changing position or content of motifs or spaces between them. Flowing rhythm is created by repetition of wavy lines. Progressive rhythm is a visual rhythm that changes a motif each time it is repeated. Random rhythm is a repetition in no apparent order with no regular spaces. Regular rhythm is achieved through repeating identical motifs using the same intervals of space between them.


In painting, a color plus black.


Shape is an element of art. The outline, edge or flat surface of a form as a circle or a square.


A rendering of the basic elements of a composition, often made in a loosely detailed or quick manner. Sketches can be both finished works of art or studies for another composition.


Space (or negative space) is the element of sculpture, which refers to emptiness or areas between, around, above, below or within objects.

Still Life

A painting with the subject matter "staged" or arranged in a pleasing way to emphasize light, color, shadow on the object(s). The objects can be flowers, fruit, vegetables, food, glass - manmade or natural objects. Backdrops are often draped materials. Still life is typically something that does not move or is dead. 


Texture is an element of art and refers to the way things feel or look as though they might feel if they were touched.


Light values of a color (adding white)


Artwork in three panels, again they can represent a singular work and be sold as a group but not necessarily.

Trompe L'Oeil

A French term meaning "deceives the eye", which means that the object(s) or subject(s) are painted in such a realistic way that it ends up being an optical 3-D illusion of reality. I love this type of painting and find it so intriguing.


The arrangement of one or more of the elements used to create a feeling of completeness. Everything in the work seems to belong and contribute to the overall picture.


Light or dark; the variations of light and dark on the surface of an object. The lightness or darkness of a color.


Principle of design concerned with difference or contrast.

Warm Colors

Warm colors are red, orange, yellow

Watercolor Painting

A type of paint in which the pigment is suspended in a water-based solution or binder. With watercolor painting, the artist paints from light to dark, with each layer increasing the shadows and leaving the paper virtually bare where the highlights are. This is the opposite of acrylic and oil painting.

*Least expensive type of painting to begin with.

*Easy cleanup.

Watercolor is the medium I am least familiar with, I am sad to report. Actually, pastels and inks are also.

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